Monday, sixteen years ago today was actually 9/10/2001…one day before that cataclysmic day 9/11. I’d heard about a Memphis antique store with all kinds of antiquated architectural elements. I was shopping for doors to make a folding screen. After shopping I stopped in The Arcade Restaurant for a slice of pizza. There was a tri-fold marketing piece on the table introducing three very smart shops…a vintage store, a mid-century modern gallery and Carnevale owned by the fabulous John Simmons. I decided to take a stroll through the newly named South Main Art District…a stroll which changed my life, forever. I came upon 508 South Main and it stopped me in my tracks. The For Rent sign might as well have had my name on it. I immediately visualized the entire floorplan…every detail. It was before we had cameras phones but I wrote down the number in my “daytimer”. The 9/11 happened.
I tried the phone number for a week; no answer. When I finally did get an answer the landlord had been stuck in Chicago after 9/11. I was ready to sign a contract but he was really a bit unfocused. He told me to come to “Trolley Night”…the monthly Art Walk and we could talk then. I asked how I would find him and he responded, “don’t worry, I’ll be around”. While I really wanted the space I was a bit concerned about renting from a complete lunatic. The following days were torture as I was ready to move. September 28 finally arrived. Brandt and I attended our first “Trolley Night”.
The energy was electric. My excitement level was almost out of control. We walked in 508 which was being used by artist…just an empty space with art on the walls, people milling about and a table with some wine and cups. Sure enough, I heard this voice so full of energy and excitement I knew this was the man I needed to see.
I began moving to South Main the next week, no contract, no confirmed rent, no place to live…but I was moving in to 508. Brandt was really unsure…no REALLY. However, the more Philip acted crazy the more I wanted the space. Initially, Philip Woodard said NO a lot more than he said YES. I ignored him every time. I put the Tim Magic on the space and after two weeks the space was transformed and we were connected for life.
He and I did several projects together. His wife, Terry became a really good customer…then we became really good friends. Then, they asked for “an appointment”. They were making a permanent move from East Memphis to South Main. They allowed me to design the interior and Terry and I had the time of our lives.
They actually called it “our” house. We saw each other every day for several months. We lost count of how many open houses and events were hosted. Finally, Terry said ENOUGH so they could have a relatively normal life. Not even a year passed, we were having dinner and Philip said “when we sell this house”…I almost lost my dinner. 2008 delayed that idea and selling wasn’t mentioned for a bit.
Fast forward to 2015. We got engaged and asked if we could get married in “our” house. Terry responded with excitement and said this will be the last party before we sell. I knew it was coming but it was still a bit of a shock.
Fast forward to last week when Philip and Terry hosted the first open house at 11 Nettleton. Here’s the image she used on the invite.
I wasn’t involved as much in this project as a lot of the previous work was re-purposed. However, they did allow me to help with color, finishes, surfaces and details. Once again, a special project I’m honored to have been a part of.
*Click on the individual shots to see the full image.
The exterior is clad in three elements:
- Steel Siding
- COR-TEN (weathered steel, is a steel alloy which was developed to eliminate the need for painting, and form a stable rust-like appearance if exposed to the weather for several years)
- Shou-Sugi-Ban (焼杉板 which literally translates to “burnt cedar board”…a centuries old Japanese technique of charring “sugi/cedar” planks used for residential siding, fencing, and decking projects).
- Smooth Color Architectural Cinder Blocks
The first floor has two exterior entrances, a garage, an office with restroom and a stair/elevator foyer. The foyer features a work inspired by the exterior Cor-Ten, envisioned by Terry, fabricated by Memphis artist Ken Lecco and lit by Philip.
The second floor is home to Phil’s mom. She has a living area, bedroom, bath and galley kitchen…no photos to respect her privacy. Additionally, she shares a space with Terry and Phil that is multipurpose as it can be a cocktail lounge, entertainment space or guest suite with private bath. The most wonderful surprise about the new home finding they owned property previously unkept by the railroad company. Terry had a vision which I think is the masterpiece of the home. Along with Phil and son Ryan she created a standard setting outdoor living space.
The pool was in the original plan but everything else came from Terry. She kept telling me about her “backyard” but wouldn’t let me see it “until it is finished”. Well, it’s finished and FABULOUS!!!
The third floor is the living space and home to Terry’s dream kitchen. I was more involved on this floor than anywhere else. There’s nothing I love more than a working kitchen. We had a really wonderful kitchen on Tennessee Street but this one is an award winner. The pantry is simply amazing. Additionally, the home’s fully integrated lighting and sound system (Phil’s passion) allows this floor to be a dynamic media room, intimate dinner setting or open space for a live music cocktail party. The stair well is especially significant in that the never ending tile wall, the coloration of surfaces/finishes and the quiet details give it the feeling of floating…allowing incredible works of art to be the focus as you move from floor to floor.
The top floor is dedicated to the master suite. I presented a tile storyboard for the whole project with respect to finish, size and color. Terry shopped and made the storyboard come to life within the budget and added her personal style. The end result has open house guest a bit…well…jealous. As wonderful as the kitchen is the master bath is a really close second if not equal in breath taking beauty, style and function.
9/11 is certainly significant in our country but in my life it was a new beginning. The past 16 years have had it’s ups and downs. The ups have been amazing and together with our South Main family we’ve weathered the downs. That family wouldn’t exist without Terry and Phil, their vision for the district, their love beautiful things…and us. The lunacy of that first phone call gave me a landlord like no other (in many ways; LOL), a client which is as much or more a dreamer than I and friends we call “our” family. Biased though I am…the house is lovely and many good times will continue to be had by all.